Tobacco Center Faculty Blog

April 2, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

E-cigarette company is trying to mobilize opposition to SB648, a bill in the California legislature that, quite sensibly, would protects innocent bystanders from  e-cigarettes the same way that California protects them from cigarettes.

According to V2cigs, the bill “declares that the use of electronic cigarettes is a hazard to the health of the general public”  and proposes to regulate e-cigs “to the same extent and in the same manner as cigarettes and other tobacco products.”   If passed, the bill would:

- Ban smoking within 25 feet of a playground, punishable by a $250 fine.
- Prohibit the use of e-cigs in enclosed places of employment, punishable by a fine of as much as $500.
- Prohibit the use of e-cigs on any railroad, bus or plane that provides departures from the state of California
- Force landlords to prohibit the use of e-cigs on their rental property, including any exterior areas (balconies, patios, walkways, etc.)

March 21, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice would not be appealing the Court of Appeals decision striking down the current warning label regulation.  Holder noted that, "the court concluded that FDA had not established that 'the graphic warnings will 'directly advance' its interest in reducing the number of Americans who smoke.''"

The court was, unfortunately, correct in that the FDA did not make a compelling case that the warning labels would have an important effect on smoking largely because of  the poorly done cost-benefit analysis that both grossly understated the benefits and overstated the costs of the warning labels. 

March 17, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

We determined whether racial/ethnic disparities existed in coverage by type of 100% smoke-free private workplace, restaurant, and bar laws from 2000 to 2009. To do this, we combined US census population data and the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation US Tobacco Control Database to calculate the percentage of individuals in counties covered by each type of law by race/ethnicity from 2000 to 2009.

More of the US Hispanic and Asian populations were covered by 100% smoke-free restaurant and bar laws than non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black populations. Asian coverage by smoke-free bars laws increased from 36% to 75%, and Hispanic coverage increased from 31% to 62%, compared with 6% to 41% for non-Hispanic Blacks and 8% to 49% for non-Hispanic Whites.

Hispanics and Asians benefited more from the rapid spread of smoke-free law coverage, whereas non-Hispanic Blacks benefited less. These ethnic disparities suggest a likely effect of geographic region and may provide a basis for more effective, community-based, and tailored policy-related interventions, particularly regarding areas with high concentrations of non-Hispanic Blacks. 

March 12, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

The court decision, issued yesterday, overturning the New York City Board of Health regulation banning super-sized sugary drinks was reminiscent of similar rulings against attempts by Boards of Health establishing smoking restrictions in the 1990s.

What happened back then is that, as a result of intense lobbying by pro-tobacco "third parties" (whose descendants are working against the NY supersize ban and soda taxes), many boards of health included exceptions in their smoking restrictions for bars or restaurants.

After they did that, the pro-tobacco forces sued -- and won -- claiming that including such exceptions was beyond the authority of boards of health because they moved from issuing regulations to legislating.

Later, when boards of health started issuing regulations that did not include such exceptions, they started winning in court.

So, rather than fighting what is probably a losing battle over the current regulation, the NY City Board of Health should simply issue a new regulation that applies to all businesses in NY City without exception.

That would not only be better public health policy but also more likely to be sustained in court.

March 10, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

According to a story in the Los Angeles Times on March 9 about the recently released initiative to raise the tobacco tax to fund college scholarships, "... the higher-education advocates behind the measure are expected to come under pressure to drop their proposal in the next few weeks from powerful unions and legislators wanting to use a cigarette tax to help pay for an expansion of healthcare in California."
This looks like a repeat of Proposition 86, an initiative to increase the tobacco tax primarily to fund medical services, that lost by 4% in 2006 (a much wider margin than the 0.4% that Prop 29, which would primarily have funded cancer and other medical research, lost by in 2012).  While both Props 86 and 29 had money for the state tobacco control program, neither one's primary purpose was to do something about tobacco.
This kind of thinking will not fly with the people any better than Gavin Newsom's proposed initiative to increase tobacco taxes for higher education.
So, what would a tobacco tax initiative that could be passed look like?